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David’s Doubting in 1 Samuel 27: Observations from Spurgeon

October 9, 2013 2 comments

From this week’s Spurgeon reading, sermon #439 “The Danger of Doubting”.  Spurgeon here focused on 1 Samuel 27:1, “And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul.”   I have briefly considered this text before in this post, in thoughts from Bible reading.

I also remember this passage, from an example (several years ago) of bad preaching: a pastor preaching through a “David” series, came to this passage and proclaimed the natural man’s way of thinking (and thereby revealing his own superficial and “natural man” thoughts):  that David did this because he didn’t have any other choice, and how hard-pressed and in danger David really was that he had to do this.  Nothing was said about the true significance of what happened here, this as one of several times that we observe of David’s declension.

Within the overall context of David’s life in 1 Samuel this is one of many times of his up and down times, of David’s experiences in and out of fellowship with the Lord — and sixteen months later (1 Samuel 30:6) we see David back in fellowship, after the Amelekites raided Ziklag and the people talked of stoning him:  “But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”  Spurgeon’s sermon gets more specific, noting several ways in which David erred here, and how applicable it is to us as well:

1. The thought of David’s heart was false. There certainly was no evidence to prove it. On no one occasion had the Lord deserted His servant; he had been placed in perilous positions very often, but not one single instance had occurred in which God’s strength was not sufficient for him. The trials to which he had been exposed had been varied; they had not assumed one form, only, but many; yet in every case He who sent the trial had also graciously ordained a way of escape. David could not put his finger upon any entry in his diary, and say of it, “Here is evidence that God will forsake me.”

2. It was contrary to evidence:  What reason had he to believe that God would leave him? Rather, how many evidences had he to conclude that the Lord neither could nor would leave him? “Your servant slew both the lion and the bear, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them.” That was good reasoning. Why not reason like that now, David?

3.  It was contrary to God’s promises.  Here Spurgeon notes the Davidic covenant:  Samuel had poured the anointing oil on David’s head—God’s earnest and promise that David would be king. Let David die by the hand of Saul, and how can the promise be fulfilled? Many times had God assured His servant David that He had chosen the son of Jesse to be the leader of His people; let him die, and how can that be true? It was, therefore, contrary to the promise of God that David should fall by his enemy’s hand!

4.  It was contrary to what David himself had often said.  A great observation here from Spurgeon’s own personal experience:

I remember on one occasion, to my shame, being sad and doubtful of heart, and a kind friend took out a paper and read to me a short extract from a discourse upon faith. I very soon detected the author of the extract; my friend was reading to me from one of my own sermons! Without saying a word he just left it to my own conscience, for he had convicted me of committing the very fault against which I had so earnestly declaimed. Often might you, Brothers and Sisters, be found out in the same inconsistency.

He Said in His Heart: David and Jeroboam

January 15, 2013 4 comments

From recent Bible readings in my Genre reading plan, I’ve noticed certain phrases often mentioned throughout the Bible. One to consider this time:  “Said in his heart” and similar variations such as “say in your heart.”

The phrase occurs first in Genesis 8:21, telling what the Lord said in His heart, in reference to God’s receiving Noah’s offering after the flood.  All other uses of the phrase tell us the human reasoning of certain individuals, indicating the person’s inner, secret thoughts: the thoughts of the spirit within a man, which we cannot know (1 Cor. 2:11) — except that in all these cases through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the writing of scripture, these thoughts are revealed to us.

I notice that whenever the phrase “said in his heart” refers to a person or people, the idea expressed comes from human reasoning not directed by the Lord God, an error in the person’s thinking.  The phrase, or similar wording such as “say in your heart,” is found in many passages including Deuteronomy 7:17, 8:17, 9:4, and 18:21; in Obadiah, about Edom, and Zephaniah 2:15 about the exultant and wicked city; Isaiah 47:8, about the wicked, and Isaiah 49:21 about God’s people when they return to Him; also in Jeremiah 13:22, Ecclesiastes 2:1, 15; and finally in Romans 10:6, quoting an Old Testament passage.

Two such occurrences are especially interesting, in the similar wording yet the great contrasts:  David, and Jeroboam.

“Jeroboam said in his heart” (1 Kings 12:26) — Here we see Jeroboam’s human reasoning, a fear that the people of Israel would go up to Jerusalem to worship and turn against Jeroboam — and the disastrous result, the introduction of idolatry to Israel.  It’s also the same phrase used of David in 1 Samuel 27:1 (Then David said in his heart, “Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul.”) which introduced David’s declension and backsliding away from the Lord for the next year and a half in Philistine territory.

Both men faltered, thinking something in their own heart that was contrary to the word of God.  Yet in David’s case, by God’s grace, David was later restored to fellowship with Him:  1 Samuel 30:6, “But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God,” indicating David’s return to a right relationship with the Lord.  God did not do that for Jeroboam when Jeroboam said something in his heart.  I’m reminded also of the common contrast between Peter and Judas: they both committed a sin against the Lord, one denying the Lord, the other betraying; and yet one was saved, the Lord interceding for and restoring him to right relationship, and the other (Judas) was not.

Lordship Versus Free Grace: Was King Saul Saved?

August 6, 2012 7 comments

From a recent online discussion that started with a list of the seven suicide accounts in the Bible, the question came up as to whether certain Old Testament individuals, King Saul and Solomon, were saved.  (I briefly considered this very matter a few years ago, concluding that Solomon was saved but not King Saul.)  A few people insisted that — regardless of all the scriptural evidence to the contrary — because of Samuel’s words to Saul, “tomorrow you and your sons will be with me,” that meant Saul was saved and went to heaven.  As I realized during this discussion, even one’s interpretation of the biblical data on a particular person or event comes from that person’s presuppositions about something even more basic:  the understanding of salvation and sanctification, and the type of life (and fruits) manifested in saved and non-saved individuals.

If 1 Samuel 28:19 is the only text in the Bible to show that King Saul was a saved, regenerate man, I first note that Saul did not take any comfort in that message from Samuel.  The rest of that scene makes very clear, how very frightened Saul was: he “fell at once full length on the ground, filled with fear” and no strength in him, not even wanting to eat.  This is a far cry from the scene where the thief on the cross was told that he would soon (that day) be with Jesus in paradise. Saul’s behavior is also nothing like David’s declaration in 2 Samuel 12, a peaceful assurance that “I shall go to him,” where his deceased infant son was.  Samson, another suicide case mentioned, met his death very differently from Saul: calling upon the Lord in that moment.  Samson knew he was going to die very shortly, and though his circumstances were quite different at that point, he did not cower in fear in light of his present physical pain and suffering and his certain physical doom, his impending death.  Job too showed that same understanding of death as a place of rest and peace.

The “answer” to Saul’s fearful reaction: that Saul was just upset and troubled by his circumstances, that he was reacting (as any ordinary person would) who wants to win the battle and continue his rule.  Also, that people in the OT didn’t have the same understanding about the afterlife as in the NT (citing the above example of the thief on the cross, while ignoring the OT examples given), and that the thief on the cross didn’t have anything in this life to lose (such as Saul who still had rule over a kingdom).

Really?  Saul’s behavior in that scene shows what had already been demonstrated previously in his life: his desperate attempt to cling to this life and to cling to the throne, even though he knew, as he had acknowledged to David when David spared his life, that David was to have the kingship.  At the point of death, no one who has a right relationship to the Lord is going to act all scared and panicked about the announcement of his death merely because he wants to win the battle, continue his rule and keep his earthly possessions.

The best explanation of Samuel’s message, that “tomorrow you and your sons will be with me” is to recognize that the word used there is Sheol:  it does not refer to paradise, or Abraham’s Bosom, or even to hell (the place of the damned), but to the intermediate place of the dead, a place that has two compartments. Thus, saying that Saul and his sons would be where Samuel was, is not a case for salvation, but to the fact that they would be in that temporary holding place before the resurrection, a holding place that we know has two compartments within it.

Going beyond the incident in 1 Samuel 28, though, the abundance of other scriptural evidence portrays Saul as an unsaved man with sins that are categorically different from the fleshly sins that the great OT saints, such as David and Moses, fell into at times in their lives.  Saul directly disobeyed a direct order from God, to slay the Amelekites, and even presumed to offer the sacrifices himself.  Saul persecuted David (the type of Christ), failing to recognize the Davidic covenant promises; he also slew God’s priests (not a light thing to dismiss).  Then he swore an oath of safety to a medium, the very thing not allowed in the word of God, which plainly says to not allow a medium/sorceress to live; and he sought guidance from that medium.

What came about next in the discussion:  that person’s concept of “Free Grace” salvation, apparently of the extreme Zane Hodges variety, that no matter what kind of life a person may lead he or she is still a regenerate, saved individual.  The above analysis was wrong, they said, because that is just focused on the idea of keeping a list of merits and demerits, a type of laundry list, and by that type of legalistic reasoning no one could be saved.  And after all, Moses and David fell into great sin.  So the “Free Grace” reasoning concluded no difference at all between the lives of Moses, David, and King Saul.

But pointing out the many scriptures regarding King Saul is not building a laundry-list or “merits and demerits” type case of “how many sins” any given person committed. Rather, it is a look at the overall character of that individual. Was that person’s life characterized by certain types of sin, or were those sins the momentary lapses of a life that had an overall tenor of godliness? It can also be related to 1 John, what John describes about those who are saved, that they do not continue sinning, that their life is not characterized by sin.  The real issue, behind the discussion of King Saul’s eternal fate, is what God’s word itself says: that people are known by their fruits, and that believers do produce fruit.

Yes, Moses had momentary lapses, as did David in his sin with Bathsheba; they were weaknesses of the flesh, expressed in emotions such as impatience and physical lust. Those sins did not characterize the lives of those men, but were the exception rather than the rule. King Saul’s sins, beginning with the reasons the kingdom was taken away from him, were especially theological in nature, as noted above.

I close with excerpts from S. Lewis Johnson’s message concerning Saul and the 1 Samuel 28 passage, from his “Lessons from the Life of David” series.

 (reading the text) And Saul answered, “I am deeply distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God has departed from me and does not answer me anymore, neither by prophets nor by dreams.”  He doesn’t say by priests because, after all, he’s the one that slew the High Priest, so he seems to want to avoid that.  “Therefore I have called you that you may reveal to me what I should do.”

Isn’t that interesting?  We won’t go directly to the Lord God, who has spoken.  But we’ll go to a witch.  And we’ll go to the witch with the idea that we can put over to people that we are really interested in knowing what God is going to do.  So Saul’s distress is the distress of disobedience.  It’s not that he has a poor self-esteem.  It’s simply he’s disobedient.  And because he’s disobedient, that’s what happens when individuals are disobedient to the word of God.  He’s already been given his answer, over and over.  He wants to know his fate, but he wants to know it without repentance.  If only the dead Samuel would favor the one God has frowned upon.  Can you imagine that?  God has spoken and said, the kingdom has been torn from you, Saul.  You’ve lost your kingdom.  So Saul will say, I think that I would like to talk to Samuel in order that he may do me some favor, delivering me from the judgment of God, when God has already spoken that this is what’s going to happen.  Amazing, amazing, truly amazing.

. . .

Divine mercy is free.  But it’s righteous in its flow.  The notion that God must help everyone in trouble is not scientific and is wrong.  Because there are individuals who do not seek the will of God and therefore, when they seek out of disobedience and clinging to their sin, God just as in the case of Saul, is silent.  It’s too late.  Too late often individuals appeal to the Lord God.  In the case of Saul, it was too late.  He had, it seemed, clearly by his actions, brought on the judgment of divine retribution.  And that is ultimately what comes to him.  Those who have the opportunity, hearing the gospel message, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,” as the jailer did, and do not respond and persist down through the years in not responding, the time may come when, how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation, may be written over their lives.

Spurgeon’s Practical, Close-to-Home Sermons

April 27, 2012 2 comments

A well-known blogger, who also likes Spurgeon, has often pointed to a shortcoming in Spurgeon, that he never preached on practical matters, only high doctrine.  I understand his point, in that Spurgeon excelled in textual preaching, and even when preaching from “practical” texts dealing with Christian living, Spurgeon would take off in another “textual” direction instead.

In a different sense, though, Spurgeon was very practical and encouraging, with hard-hitting messages and many illustrations of daily life.  I’m now reading through Spurgeon’s volume 6 (1860) sermons.  Numbers 320 and 321 I found especially encouraging, as ones that hit very close to home.  The first of these, Contentment, includes great reminders of God’s sovereignty and wisdom in placing us exactly where we need to be in our daily circumstances of life:

You kneel down in the morning and you say, “Your will be done!” Suppose you get up and want your own will and rebel against the dispensation of your heavenly Father—have you not made yourself out to be a hypocrite? The language of your prayer is at variance with the feeling of your heart; let it always be sufficient for you to think that you are where God put you.

In the second message, The Jeer of Sarcasm, and the Retort of Piety, Spurgeon takes a longer than usual (for him) passage:  3 full verses, 2 Samuel 6:20-22, the occasion of Michal’s criticism of David after he danced before the Lord while bringing in the ark.

You may suppose there is very little suffering for Christ now—I speak what I know—there is still a vast deal of suffering! I do not mean burning, I do not mean hanging, I do not mean persecution by law. It is a sort of slow martyrdom. I can tell you how it is effected. Everything a young man does is thrown in his teeth; things harmless and indifferent in themselves are twisted into accusation that he does wrong. If he speaks, his words are brought up against him. If he is silent it is worse. Whatever he does is misrepresented and from morning to night there is the taunt always ready.

How accurate Spurgeon was, in the descriptions of “slow martyrdom” for those who face such persecution from a close family member, even a wife or husband.  The jeer of sarcasm may not happen every moment or even every day.  Likewise Michal only made this specific jeer on this one occasion.  But it does come up frequently, providing a definite barrier and limitation to free communication in one’s own home, and in a way similar to what Spurgeon described.  Remain silent, saying nothing about your own beliefs and that which you love (great doctrines from the word of God), and be accused of “not being any fun” and a “boring person to be around.”  Quietly spend time reading God’s word before breakfast and the workday begins – oh that’s too fanatical, and you should just get more sleep, don’t try to do all that.  The jeerer — a nominal Christian like David’s Michal, focused more on form than substance — cannot understand such behavior as anything other than “being legalistic” and “thinking you know everything.”  Personal sanctification – as practiced in the desire for entertainment that is more edifying, eschewing secular music and books that include foul language – is likewise seen as arrogance and legalism.

I like the term he used, “slow martyrdom,” and recall what I considered on this matter a few years ago: the feeling that it would be easier to endure a sudden, one-time event that led to martyrdom, since tradition martyrdom does involve a brief incident with a generally known “end date” at which time the person is free from the persecution, away from the body and at home with the Lord.  By contrast, the continual day-in-day-out life with an unbeliever doesn’t have a known end-point and “quick escape,” but a long delay and continued trials and persecution, and still having to live in this world.

Spurgeon recognized these types of people, the jeerers (Michal) and the pious (David), acknowledging that some believers, in God’s providence, must experience this type of “slow martyrdom” in their own homes, even as others are spared that particular trial.  He also noted that it happens just as much with husbands critical of godly wives as vice versa, and made great application from the David and Michal situation.

In closing, another excerpt of encouragement from this Spurgeon sermon:

Ah, Brothers and Sisters, you need not fear, you can bear witness for the Truth of God whatever is said—you must bear with the slanderer and forbear. If they throw anything in your teeth, still stand up for your Lord Jesus.  Don’t yield a single inch, and the day shall come when you shall have honor even in the eyes of those who in the world once laughed at you and put you to open shame.

The Kingdom of God: David and Solomon as Types of Christ

March 27, 2012 Leave a comment

I continue to appreciate Horner-style genre Bible reading, for the repetition and increasing overall familiarity with scripture.  Often I notice particular verses and parallels that I might not have picked up on from separate single-passage reading.

One day in my reading, for instance, I noted the following similar passages:

  • Romans 16:20  “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”
  • 1 Kings 5:3 “You know that David … because of the warfare with which his enemies surrounded him, until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet.

The interesting point I noted here is the David-Solomon pair as a type of Christ in His future reign upon the Earth.  Romans 16:20 references the fulfillment, what Christ will actually do in the future.

As I’ve been reading again through the books of Kings and Chronicles, and thinking more about the Kingdom (see this recent post), I’ve noticed even more clearly the typology of the David-Solomon set and the functions and actions of each.  Together, David and Solomon represent aspects of Christ’s future work:  first the warfare against His enemies and putting them down (King David), immediately followed by the wonderful time of peace and prosperity as pictured in the Kingdom of Solomon.

As pointed out in this previous post, true types (examples or pictures) can be defined by three characteristics:

  • correspondences between people, things (or institutions), or events
  • historicity: not allegory of things that did not historically happen
  • predictiveness:  God works according to the patterns that are revealed in the Old Testament; the types of the Old Testament point forward to the ultimate fulfillment.

1 and 2 Chronicles especially point out the distinction between the two, with several statements about the fact that David was a man of war and could not build the temple, and Solomon would be the man of peace (1 Chronicles 22:7-10, and 1 Chronicles 28:3-6).  1 Kings 5:3 (above) directly shows David as the type of Christ: who had enemies, and warfare, until the Lord put them under his (David’s) feet.

It is so true, as Richard Mayhue said, that the doctrine of the Kingdom of God is the most neglected and misunderstood theme in the Bible.  So much of the Old Testament includes the kingdom theme, including the many passages showing the Kingdom type as played out in Israel’s kings, plus the parallel scriptures written centuries later, by the prophets, describing a future kingdom so much like the one depicted in type by King Solomon.

The first several chapters in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles provide some great descriptions of some of what we can look forward to when Christ has put all His enemies under His feet and begins to reign:  wealth (1 Kings 4:20-28, 1 Kings 10:14-23, 2 Chronicles 9:13-22), peace (1 Kings 4:24-25; reference Micah 4:4), a king who reigns with wisdom (1 Kings 3), and people from the other nations coming to Jerusalem, bringing tribute and seeking his wisdom (1 Kings 4:21, 1 Kings 10: 23-25), and praising the true God, Solomon’s God and ours (1 Kings 10:1-10;  Matthew 12:42 ) the King and Lord Jesus Christ, the “greater than Solomon.”

The following is just a sampling, a table showing several of these parallels between the Old Testament type and the future fulfillment.

Scripture Teaching OT Type Future Fulfillment
Enemies Under Feet 1 Kings 5:3 1 Corinthians 15:25-27;
Romans 16:20
A Kingdom of Peace 1 Kings 4:24-25 Micah 4:4
Nations Coming to Bring
Tribute
1 Kings 4:21; 1 Kings
10:23-25
Zechariah 14:16; Haggai 2:7;
Isaiah 60:3-7
Fleet of Ships at Tarshish,
bringing silver and gold
1 Kings 10:22 Isaiah 60:9
The House Filled With Glory 2 Chronicles 5:13-14 Haggai 2:7

Psalm 110: David’s Thoughts About Melchizedek

November 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Psalm 110 is the first mention in the Bible, that the coming Messiah would be a priest.  A king, yes, that is foretold early in the OT.  But it was not until David, meditating on the significance of Melchizedek in Genesis, that the OT revealed the Messiah-priest.

We don’t know the circumstances of how or when David penned Psalm 110, but we can speculate on that, from the events in David’s life.  Very possibly, David thought of Melchizedek and his significance, when he conquered and took Jerusalem.  Jerusalem, the city of peace, was the Salem of old.  Melchizedek was part of that ancient Jerusalem.  Besides that event, though, David likely thought more about this after his sin with Bathsheba, a time when he considered his own great need for an eternal high priest — something beyond the Aaronic priesthood.

What we learn from study of the Old Testament (as well as the New), is that the writers of inspired scripture were themselves great students of the Word, of the parts they had access to in their day.  Isaiah for instance relies heavily on the Pentateuch, and especially on Deuteronomy 31-32.  Zechariah referred to Isaiah’s prophecy, a book he was clearly familiar with.  Here, too, with the case of Psalm 110 we see David as a student of the Word.

David’s Great Sin

July 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Going through  S. Lewis Johnson’s “Lessons from the Life of David,” I now reach 2 Samuel 11, the account of David’s great sin, the one that he never recovered from, with consequences that affected him the rest of his life.  As always, S. Lewis Johnson points to several other relevant biblical passages, for which we can see this incident as an illustration and a warning for our own lives.  1 Corinthians 10:12 is especially appropriate here: let him who thinks he stands, take heed, lest he fall.

Other New Testament passages that speak to the situation, David at this time, include James 1:14-15 and Romans 7:13-25.  David now at the height of his kingdom — apparently about 12 years after he became king of all Israel — has some spiritual gray hairs that he has not noticed: rot and decay setting in.  The polygamy in the palace clearly had taken its toll, and with the first step mentioned in 2 Samuel 11 (staying home, abdicating his royal functions, and idle), David is left susceptible to sensual passion.

Proverbs 11:22 describes the woman Bathsheba, as opposite of the godly woman who fears the Lord and shall be praised.  It is clear from the text that she was a willing accomplice in the adultery, and that she was more interested in the formal, outward ceremonial part of God’s law, as opposed to the moral part — as indicated in the narrative accounts of her ceremonial purification and her ceremonial mourning.  I recall a radio lesson years ago, from Chuck Swindoll, in which he laid further blame upon Bathsheba — that she should have known not to bathe in a place that could be observed from the king’s palace.  I’ve not heard that view anywhere else; but certainly, as S. Lewis Johnson observes, she had her guilt in the matter.

Uriah the Hittite is the most surprising character in the story, the one truly righteous man.  Johnson quotes someone else as having observed that “Uriah drunk was more pious than David sober.”

David followed the steps of the impenitent man:  clings to his sin, then searches for a means of escape, and finally completes the cover-up. Throughout the events, David broke three of the Ten commandments (adultery, murder, and coveting).  Yet God has the final say, and brings the greatest irony — like other ironic events in the Bible.  What David most wanted was to cover-up and hide his sin — and yet when he completed the cover-up, God made sure that everyone in the world would know about it, by having it recorded in holy scripture.  Today, even those with only a passing knowledge of the Bible, when they think of King David, associate David with Bathsheba.

In the follow-up text, 2 Samuel 12, S. Lewis Johnson has a few more interesting observations:

  • Families in the Near-East did sometimes have pet lambs, much as people today have pet dogs.
  • The fact that the story describes a little ewe lamb suggests that Bathsheba was very young, with an older, mature Uriah.  We do know that both Uriah and Eliab, Bathsheba’s father, were among David’s 30 mighty men, and this too suggests an age difference.
  • Even in his sinful state David still had a heart for justice, and knew very well the Mosaic law.  His remark about paying back four-fold agreed with the actual prescribed Mosaic law regarding the theft and slaughter of a sheep.  (see Exodus 22:1)

In the end, David did pay back “four-fold,” though certainly not in a way that Moses would have realized:

  • the death of the infant son
  • the death of Amnon
  • the death of Absalom
  • the death of Adonijah

Biblical Covenants: The Davidic Covenant

July 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Through an interesting providence, both of my current MP3 sermon studies — one going through the life of David in 1st and 2nd Samuel, the other a doctrinal series “The Divine Purpose” — came to the same subject last week: the Davidic covenant. The “Lessons from the Life of David,” upon reaching 2 Samuel 7, begins a mini-series of four messages on the topic. The “Divine Purpose” series is in a section looking at the biblical covenants and commits two sessions specifically to the Davidic covenant, as an expansion of the Abrahamic covenant.

Some of the important points:
The Davidic covenant expands on the Abrahamic covenant, and the primary feature here is the kingdom — a king and a realm (subjects). The New Covenant, another outworking of the Abrahamic covenant, treats the matter of the seed. The Davidic covenant also promises the everlasting reign of David’s seed, and here the term seed is meant in the collective sense: David’s descendants on the throne, but ultimately the line ends as it comes into the Messiah.

In 2 Samuel 7:8, God promises that David “should be prince over my people Israel.” God reserves the title of King to Himself alone. Here I add an interesting note from recent reading through 1 Samuel 25 (list 6), that Abigail does indeed appear to know something about the future Davidic promises, with her words “a sure house” and, verse 30, that the Lord would appoint David prince over Israel: ” And when the Lord has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you and has appointed you prince over Israel”. Also from recent readings I noticed Psalm 145, and in verses 10-13 David also recognizes that it is God’s kingdom:

All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you!
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

The word “covenant” does not actually appear in 2 Samuel 7, but in 2 Samuel 23:5, David makes reference to the covenant: “For he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure.”

The three key passages for the Davidic covenant are 2 Samuel 7, 1 Chronicles 17, and Psalm 89.  Johnson describes these passages as different types of lights that show different emphases:

  • 2 Samuel 7 — a floodlight, an overview
  • 1 Chronicles 17 — a spotlight
  • Psalm 89 — a searchlight

Psalm 89 has two key words: mercy (or “loving kindness”) and faithfulness. Psalm 89 was written by Ethan, whose name means perpetuity. SLJ made a passing reference without further explanation, that this psalm was written at the time when Rehoboam had been unfaithful. I don’t see this detail in the text, so this is one for further study, to look up in commentaries.

These two Davidic covenant series contain a great deal of overlap, though the David series spends more time (four sessions instead of two). Yet in both of these series SLJ uses the illustrations of different types of light — the floodlight, spotlight, and searchlight — and cites the same passages in reference to the Davidic covenant in prophecy, including Isaiah 7, 9 and 11. Both series also discuss the New Testament references to the Davidic covenant.

In closing, here are the references to the Davidic covenant in Isaiah. Both of these series are available, in transcript and audio files, at www.sljinstitute.net

Isaiah 7:13-14 — “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 9:7 – Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.

Isaiah 11:1- 10, in which verses 1 and 10 mention “the stump of Jesse” and “the root of Jesse,” with descriptions of the kingdom age in between:

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.

and

In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples-of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.

Typology: David the True King, but Not Yet Reigning

June 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Through all my sources of reading and listening, I sometimes forget where I first heard a particular idea: was it something in a Spurgeon sermon I read? Or was it something I heard from S. Lewis Johnson?  Yet a general trend has emerged, that new information builds on what I already know, and then is reinforced when I hear the same idea again from other sources, to aid in remembering, understanding and expressing the concept.

As one example: the typological understanding of David in 1 Samuel, as the king anointed but not yet on the throne, as illustrative of our Lord Jesus who has accomplished the work of redemption, yet like David is not yet reigning on His throne.  Not long ago I first came across this in my reading from J.C. Ryle:

The Lord Jesus during the present dispensation is like David between the time of His anointing and Saul’s death. He has the promise of the kingdom, but He has not yet received the crown and throne (1 Sam. 22:1, 2).

He is followed by a few, and those often neither great nor wise, but they are a faithful people. He is persecuted by His enemies, and oft times driven into the wilderness, and yet His party is never quite destroyed. But He has none of the visible signs of the kingdom at present: no earthly glory, majesty, greatness, obedience. The vast majority of mankind see no beauty in Him: they will not have this man to reign over them. His people are not honored for their Master’s sake: they walk the earth like princes in disguise. His kingdom is not yet come: His will is not yet done on earth excepting by a little flock. It is not the day of His power. The Lord Jesus is biding His time.

This week I listened to S. Lewis Johnson’s “Lessons from the Life of David” series, covering this same chapter, 1 Samuel 22, that J.C. Ryle references.  Here, SLJ  expands on this very issue, with a point-by-point comparison between the life of David at this time (1 Samuel 22) and our Lord Jesus during this present Church age:

1.  Saul, the rejected king, is on the throne.  Satan, the rejected king as a result of his original sin, is still on the throne and very active.

The true king has been anointed and accomplished His work, but He is not yet on the throne.

2.  David, the typical true king, has been divinely called and has been victorious over Goliath.  And so the Lord Jesus has been divinely called by the angel and then has been victorious in his incarnation and in his saving work on Calvary’s Cross, and just as David took Goliath’s head and brought it to Jerusalem, so the Lord Jesus in the words of one of the great expositors, “Has the Giant’s head in his hand and he has carried it to the right hand of the throne of God in token of his ultimate victory.

3.  David, the true king, is persecuted by Saul, the rejected king.  Our Lord Jesus came into our society, was persecuted.  He came to his own, his own received him not.

4.  David, the true king, gathered followers to himself.  He gathered, as our author said, “Those who were in distress, those who were in debt, those who were discontented.”  And so, likewise, in the present day, the Lord Jesus is gathering followers. … So in Saul’s day, David was gathering out followers who formed the people of God.

5.  David’s followers owe their life to him just as the followers of the Lord, Jesus Christ, owe their spiritual life to him.  He is the good shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep.  He is the one who gives unto them eternal life and they shall never perish.

6.  David’s follower’s descriptions reflect us.  Those in distress came to him.  “Come unto me all ye that are heavy laden,” Jesus said, “Those who are in distress, those who are in debt, and oh, how much we owe and those who are discontented, embittered of soul,” the Hebrew text says it.  The unsaved, incidentally, are always discontented.  If you look back on your life, if you have a day when you came to know the Lord Jesus as your savior, you’ll know as you look at your life, that your life in the past could be characterized, among other things, as discontented.

7.  David’s followers were trained by association with a rejected king.  David’s followers, as you know if you read the Bible, became what Scripture called his mighty men, his mighty men by association with David, his mighty men, they were those who were poor, they were in debt, they were discontented, they were oppressed, but by association with him, his mighty men.  True believing Christians, by association with our Lord, Jesus Christ, become his mighty men.  They’re called “The Sons of the Kingdom.”  And that’s something that God gives to those who associate with him.  Sons of the Kingdom, redeemed by him and, ultimately, even if we fail miserably in this life, ultimately, we shall rule and reign with him, as the Book of Revelation says, upon the earth.

Various Devotional Thoughts

April 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Several different devotional thoughts and teachings have helped encourage me in my daily Christian walk.

Dan Phillips at Pyromaniacs has a good article in his study through Colossians, about being thankful — a good reminder every day.

Today’s “Morning and Evening” devotional from Spurgeon has a great “evening” edition, from the text of Exodus 17:2 and the prayer of Moses.  As usual, Spurgeon is spot on with his observations, such as this one:

It is far easier to fight with sin in public than to pray against it in private. It has been observed that while Joshua never grew weary in the fighting, Moses did grow weary in the praying; the more spiritual an exercise, the more difficult it is for flesh and blood to maintain it.

The more I continue daily reading and study through God’s word, the more I realize my need for it every day.  A related thought: yesterday’s grace and yesterday’s prayers and thoughts are not sufficient, but continual reminders are needed; even then, sometimes my soul is still dull and sluggish to respond to the things of God.  Thank God for His immutability, His unchanging nature — even though we are often “foolish and slow of heart” (Luke 24: 25), our God is infinitely patient and will never forsake us.  Often I recall the words of the man who exclaimed to Jesus, “I believe.  Help my unbelief.”

One important teaching impressed upon me these last few months has been that, as S. Lewis Johnson put it, our salvation gives us many things, but one thing it does not do is “guarantee that we shall never stumble in the Christian life or that we shall not have periods of declension.”   This point especially comes out in lessons through the lives of the Old Testament saints in Genesis, and in the topical series through the lives of Gideon, Samson, and David.  My frequent failures and up-and-down feelings toward God used to plague me to despair, to the point of doubting my salvation — in the face of several years of that tone of teaching at the local church, with its emphasis on the ever forward-moving improvement and sanctification in the believer’s life, without the proper balance of the reality as illustrated in both Old and New Testament saints.  Such teaching — from a weak preacher who describes the narratives of David’s failures as though they were not declensions but what David had to do and thus it was okay for David, and portrays David as actually a better, less sinful man than the rest of us (because of his special chosen status before God and as a type of Christ) — just didn’t address the truth that David and others in the Bible did blunder, and did so quite often.  As S. Lewis Johnson also pointed out in reference to David as a type of Christ, David is not a type of Christ in his sin, in his humanness.  David is a type of Christ (only) in his official activity — “officially he is a type of Christ because he is a king, and thus he represents the Messianic king who is to come.”   We can learn from David’s personal example, but that is different from teaching that David, being a type of Christ, was somehow better and less prone to sin than the rest of us.

This morning my MP3 teaching came from the message  “Declension of David,”  in which we see the steps David takes in his walk away from the Lord (1 Samuel 21), starting with fear — then to deception, lying about need of haste, needing a sword, a flight to Achish king of the Philistines, then to the feigning of madness and being driven away from a pagan king.  But then Psalms 34 and 56, written at the time of these events, shows us the way out of that declension (Psalm 34) and how to maintain a right walk before God (Psalm 56).